Our habits help us be efficient in our day-to-day lives, but they can also be a source of major headache. Breaking a habit is not easy. Habits can be addictive and even bring us comfort. Just ask anyone that has tried to quit smoking.
Sara and Greg are talking about Sara’s way of thinking and how that may be impacting her level of stress and in particular her relationship with her main stressor. One of the three mind traps is habitual styles of thinking.
There are six types of habitual thinking:
Creating a catastrophe – you know when that what-if game is played you come up with the WORST case scenarios possible. Ever do that? When does that worst case ever happen? If it does, did you survive?
Exaggerating the negative and discounting the positive – when you get a compliment and say "thanks, but…" and then proceed to give all the reasons why it isn’t true.
Mind reading – You know what they are thinking especially about you. You don’t need evidence. You know. Your magical mind reading ability has kicked into high gear.
Being the eternal expert – it’s exhausting. You have to know everything, all the time, and are on guard all the time. You have to be right.
The “shoulds” – oh yes, the guilt creator. I should do this and this and this. Oh and he should have done this and that. You get angry or resentful when others don’t measure up to your list of rules that only you know about.
Blaming – the all too familiar blame game. Is there always someone outside of yourself that’s the cause of your suffering? You can’t change others, you can’t always change your circumstances, but you can change yourself.
Sara considers how these styles of thinking are keeping her focused in a negative state of mind. And how this feeds her inner critic and ultimately keeps her from feeling in control over her own life. During this week, Sara is told to pay attention to her style of thinking and when she falls into any of these mind traps. She is also told to do 10-15 minutes of mindful breathing every day.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh